7 Ways Your Pets Keep You Healthy
Learn about the health benefits of owning a pet.
Health Benefits of Owning a Pet
They may hog the bed and chew your favorite pair of Jimmy Choos, but your furry friends also do a lot to keep you well. And science is beginning to take the benefits of pet ownership seriously. Case in point: a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pet owners who consider their pets to be best friends lead more fulfilling lives, psychologically and physically.
Learn ways in which animal companions contribute to your health and well-being.
Dogs Get You Moving
A British study of 5,000 people—including 3,000 dog owners—found that the average dog owner walked his or her dog for more than eight hours a week. Those who did not own a dog only spent, on average, one hour and 20 minutes per week at the gym, walking, or jogging. Almost half of the people without pets admitted that they didn't exercise at all.
Pets Can Help You Quit Smoking
In a 2009 online survey, more than 28 percent of participants who smoked said learning that secondhand smoke was bad for their pets would motivate them to quit, and another eight percent said that knowledge would motivate them to ask their partners to quit.
Pets Improve Brain Function
Several studies have shown the benefits of dogs for pet therapy to soothe people with dementia and help them interact more with others. One small study also suggests that having aquariums in dining rooms may help patients with cognitive problems eat better and gain weight.
Pets Are Good For Your Heart
Compared to those who don't own pets, people with pets have been shown to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, reducing their risk of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, one large study found that even birds and fish can provide the same kinds of benefits.
Pets Ease Stress and Fight Depression
In addition to companionship, pets give you someone to care for. That's important, because experts say caring for a pet boosts certain brain chemicals that lower stress and can make you feel happier. Studies on specific groups, including the elderly and people with AIDS, have found pet owners to be less depressed than those who do not own pets.
Pets Help You Make Friends
Several studies suggest that children who grew up with pets have better nonverbal communication skills, more social skills, and higher levels of self-esteem than children who do not grow up with pets.
Pets Can Boost Your Immune System
A puppy a day seems to keep the doctor away. According to a study by the UK's University of Warwick, young children in families with pets—including dogs, cats, fish, and birds—missed fewer days of school than kids who did not have pets. Earlier research showed that kids with pets were also less likely to have allergies or asthma. And in a survey of more than 21,000 adults in Finland, participants who owned pets reported fewer doctor visits than people without pets.
More Pet Health Info
Pets provide companionship for exercise and play, and offer a number of benefits that reduce stress and keep you healthy. But probably the most rewarding—and beneficial—is the unconditional love that your pet brings. No matter how tired you are after a long day, your pet’s eagerly awaiting your return. Learn more about returning the love and properly caring for your pet.